[The Media Blog] This Documentary About Toolz at the Bakassi IDP Camp is One of the Things You Should See Today


Back in January, media personality Toolz visited the Bakassi IDP camp in Maiduguri, Borno, a volatile region notorious for Boko Haram attacks. The visit had come about from a challenge from the British High Commissioner to Nigeria Paul Arkwright, who had wanted Toolz to accompany his team on their next trip to an IDP camp last year. Maiduguri, as the capital of Borno, has also functioned as a dreadful annex for terrorism, claiming innocent lives and displacing families and destroying businesses.

Set up to rehabilitate displaced persons into a semblance of normalcy, the Bakassi IDP camp is just one of the structures in Nigeria serving this purpose and more. In the Toolz documentary, we see women and children in the camp elevated above their trauma and suffering, a watchable piece of filming that doesn’t indulge in the raw, painful aspects of being psychologically bruised by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

But still, the documentary feels a little chiselled and glossed-up, not the kind of daring, piercing imagery or camerawork you would find on CNN or Al Jazeera. The IDP camp is built on arid grounds, stretches of enclosures lacking in amenities like mattresses and water to cater to the camp’s population. Women and children usually bear the brunt of terrorist attacks and war, and it’s no surprise that they are centered in the documentary. Their stories of loss and displacement, and neglected children lost to hunger and waterborne diseases prior to entering the camp pulls at the heartstrings.

“We want more attention on our girls,” says a woman in her Hausa dialect. She’s in a clustered space of women wearing hijabs. They are not literate to communicate in English but their wish is clear: education for their daughters, to which a white woman in Toolz’s team nods approvingly, emphasising on the importance of educating the girl child.

The women are making their lives more meaningful by learning different crafts, and building an entrepreneurial spirit. The scene in which Toolz is surrounded by jolly, cheerful children who touch her hand as she touches theirs humanises the documentary. And although the IDP camp has become a Mecca of some sort, attracting public figures and personalities to its sun-scorched grounds, the documentary creates the illusion that Toolz isn’t there and with her celebrity prestige folding into anonymity, all we see is a woman who just wants to share her experience with the world.

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